003779Reviews & Counting
Peter Pan (SE)
DVD disk
03.13.2007 By: Jason Adams
Peter Pan (SE) order
Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske

Bobby Driscoll
Kathryn Beaumont
Hans Conried


star Printer-Friendly version
Wendy, John and Michael Darling are whisked away one night to a faraway place called Never Land, where they have magical adventures with a boy who never wants to grow up.

And then when Michael Jackson finally lets them go, the Darling children meet up with Peter Pan and some stuff happens with pirates, Indians, fairies, etc.
Watching PETER PAN again for the first time in fifteen years reminded me of one thing: the title character is an effing rock star. He’s cocky, selfish and not afraid to throw down and fight guys twice his size. Plus, he’s got girls of all races and species constantly fighting over him. (Tinker Bell is one foxy chick…er, pixie. Don’t judge me.)

Even though PETER PAN is a fine children’s story about innocence and imagination, it’s also quite adult in places. There’s a little violence, a pretty hardcore love triangle (Tinker Bell is like a spurned ex-girlfriend on crack) and just a twinge of sexuality (half naked mermaids = Playboy bunnies, Peter Pan = Hugh Hefner). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying any of it is inappropriate for children of any age; it’s all pretty transparent and fits in context. My point, rather, is that the film plays as a straightforward adventure, and not just some kid’s movie that will make anyone over the age of seven gag. And that’s definitely part of PETER PAN’s success; even as it provides an entertaining pseudo-lesson to children, it doesn’t pander to them. The characters feel very real, the danger more than apparent, the dialogue quite witty in spots and the story very engaging and believable, which makes the entire thing highly rewatchable.

When I say that the characters feel very real, I mean that literally as well. This was classic Disney in its heyday (1950’s) and the animation itself is fantastic. As seen in the special features, nearly the entire film was acted out by its voice actors as reference for the animators, and that attention to detail in the character work is definitely apparent in a lot of the physical comedy and visual gags.

Lastly, there's been some controversy in recent years about the non-PC portrayal of the Indians…er, Native Neverlanders. Like the “Jim” crows in DUMBO, I really think it's more a reflection of its times than outright racism. Does that make those portions of history any less unfortunate? No. If you need to, give your kids some context, but it shouldn’t stop you or anyone else from enjoying the movie and its main positive message.
Somebody’s been digging around in the Vault… The latest in Disney’s fantastic Platinum Series, this two-disc set is packed with solid extras.

Disc One:

Audio Commentary: This is more like a series of separate audio interviews than a true commentary. Roy Disney introduces each guest, which includes some of the original animators, Kathryn Beaumont (who voiced Wendy), Margaret Kerry (who modeled for Tinkerbell) and film historian Leonard Maltin. The various contributors give you different perspectives and expertise on the film, making for an informative listen for fans.

Peter’s Playful Prank: Pretty much the entire movie read to you in quick storybook form.

Song Selection: Allows you go to any song in the movie, with the option of having the lyrics displayed on screen. So it’s essentially scene selection and subtitles.

TINKER BELL Sneak Peek (2:24): A look at the new Pan-less Tinker Bell movie, which I believe just got pushed back when John Lasseter discovered its sucktitude. Also, CGI Tinkerbell is hot.

Disc Two:

You Can Fly: The Making of PETER PAN (15:31): A quick history of Pan, from J.M. Barrie’s original stage play to its adaptation on screen. There’s storyboards and interviews with cast and crew, as well as some great behind the scenes footage of the reference models used during the animation.

The PETER PAN That Almost Was (21:03): Two Disney guys take you inside the archive and show you some discarded original storyboards, script excerpts and memos from Walt Disney. One early version of the script involves Peter kidnapping Wendy. I believe that plot line was later used in the porn version, PEENER PAN.

In Walt’s Words: Why I Made PETER PAN (7:43): Cool: Somebody found an article written by Walt Disney himself, chronicling his passion for this story since he saw the original play as a boy. Not Cool: Instead of simply reading the letter or including it as part of the packaging, they decided to re-enact it dramatically to the delight of no one.

Tinker Bell: A Fairy’s Tale (8:27): A look at the effect of the diminutive character in Disney history and how she’s been portrayed in various mediums. And apparently I’m not alone in feeling uncomfortably attracted to a cartoon character, since some dude also mentions it in an interview here.

The PETER PAN Story (12:04): A featurette from 1952 promoting the movie and its making.

Deleted Pirate Song (2:22): Taken from the scene where Hook’s men confront the children. Presented in storyboard form.

Never Land: The Lost Song (2:39): Step 1: Find a song about Peter Pan from the 1940’s. Step 2: Redo the song 60 years later very poorly. Step 3: FAIL.

Music Videos: Two videos, each equally horrible. One is the aforementioned “lost” song, and the other is performed by some co-ed boy band called T-Squad. Please do not let your children watch T-Squad.

English Read Along: A little storybook reader guides you to speak along with the film’s dialogue karaoke-style. Pretty much just glorified subtitles.

Train to Be a Lost Boy: Three different games for the young’ns: a Sudoku puzzle, a flight simulator and a target practice thingy.

Peter Pan’s Virtual Flight (2:01): A CG flythrough of London and Neverland with comments from Peter Pan.

Some Art Galleries< and Previews round out the set.
Thankfully the horrid aftertaste of HOOK or the recent RETURN TO NEVERLAND direct to DVD sequel has not tarnished this original classic. Full of imagination and adventure, I’m sure any children you have will love it. And as long as Disney keeps up the high quality of these Platinum DVDs, I’ll keep shelling out the green to revel in my own childhood for a few hours.

Extra Tidbit: PETER PAN is the last movie that all nine of Disney’s Nine Old Men worked on together.
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